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Brian Mull | | March 18, 2016

March Madness predictions: Kansas, Michigan State most popular picks to win 2016 national title

Traditions: Kansas' Rock Chalk Jayhawk

The college basketball voters have spoken. And nearly one-fourth of them love Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk to win the national championship April 4 in Houston.

We crunched all the numbers from all brackets submitted to the Capital One NCAA March Madness Bracket Challenge game. About 25 percent of the brackets choose Kansas, the No. 1 overall seed in the 2016 NCAA tournament, to give coach Bill Self his second national title.

Close behind at 22 percent was Michigan State, the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region. The Spartans, who lost to Duke in the national semifinals last season, seek their eighth Final Four and second national championship under coach Tom Izzo.

North Carolina, the top seed in the East, was third with 15 percent. The Tar Heels have a challenging road to maneuver in pursuit of their third national championship under coach Roy Williams since 2005.

Those three teams are the clear favorites in the voters' eyes. After the Tar Heels, there was a significant dropoff.

Kentucky - the No. 4 seed in the East - was tabbed by 5.3 percent of entrants who obviously believe coach John Calipari’s team is on track for a fifth Final Four in six years. Oklahoma, led by high-scoring Naismith Trophy candidate Buddy Hield, is right behind the Wildcats, selected by 5 percent of players. The Sooners are the No. 2 seed in the West.

What about the other two No. 1 seeds, Virginia and Oregon?

They’re next. The Cavaliers were picked on 4 percent of entries as they pursue the first national title in school history. Oregon won the first NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in 1939 and is in the hunt for another 77 years later, with a No. 1 seed for the first time since the tournament adopted its current seeding format in 1985. About 4 percent of voters pegged the Ducks.

Duke and Villanova were picked by about 2 percent of players. Xavier, West Virginia, Indiana, and Texas A&M were tabbed by 1 percent.

Every team in the field was picked as the national champion on at least 200 entries.


College basketball rankings: Even unranked teams find success in the NCAA tournament

Since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 — its modern format — only four of 35 national champions were unranked to start the season. That’s about one in every nine years.

Only .025 percent predicted the 2021 Final Four teams in the Bracket Challenge Game

UCLA's upset of No. 1 Michigan in the Elite Eight turned what could have been a record-high number of perfect picks into a tiny number that went 4-for-4.

A huge majority of NCAA brackets have a No. 1 seed winning the 2021 championship

Here is how many brackets predicted each seed to win the national championship, from Gonzaga and the No. 1 seeds through Drexel and the rest of the No. 16 seeds.
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